Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Anti-Ripple Band - Alesana - Where Myth Fades to Legend

Originally formed in Baltimore then Raleigh, NC, Alesana put together an aggressive blend of post-hardcore, progressive pop metal that quickly got the interest of screamo fans in their hometown. One look at their slickly produced second CD, their first for new label Fearless, and you can tell the boys got just about everything covered. The CD packaging is beautiful, meticulously crafted with gorgeous art direction by Brad Filip. The production work is strong throughout, even including an enhanced CD “Making of the Record” documentary. Flaunting a My Chemical Romance post-hardcore gothic chic, the boys got endorsements from everyone from Schecter Guitars to, not surprisingly, Glamour Kills Clothing, Draven Shoes and Electric Zombie Clothing. On the band photo, not a single hair is out of place; even the disheveled bangs look professionally disheveled to just the right amount, after hours in the stylist’s chair.

Yes, the boys seemed to have thought of it all, except for one thing. The music.

Never in my life have I heard a band so loud, yet so completely devoid of any real emotion or passion for what they’re doing. Everything about this band, from their pretty boy, hurt-but-tough look, to the clothing endorsements, to the asinine presumptuousness of the title is manufactured. Alesana seem like a premeditated, calculated boy group, the Backstreet Boys of screamo; a cartoon cutout reproduction of what a real band is supposed to be. I’m sure, somewhere, some prepubescent 13 year old girls, or sexually confused boys, will be arguing over which Alesana boy is the cutest, but that’s where any fascination with the band ends.

Devoid of any real chops, each song is an unholy mess of generic, recycled licks and random time changes. Employing a sort of mutated Linkin Park smooth and rough vocal style, each song is punctuated by more random screams and growls than you’d hear in the lion cage at feeding time. But that’s just what the screams are, random; they serve no purpose but to scream. Even the smooth vocal is an annoying pre-pubescent whine, just begging for puberty and a touch of testosterone to help those testicles descend. With the knobs cranked up past 11 on each track, these guys haven’t learned that there’s more to creating emotionally powerful music than volume, screaming and noise. There has to be some melody, some riff, some chop to get the damn song to hang together. Not here. Instead, each song rambles on imperceptibly different than the next; one generic wall of noise after the other, leading me to believe that the only reason they bothered to call these separate songs was to give them self-consciously pretentious song titles like, “This is Usually the Part Where People Scream,” or “Obsession is Such An Ugly Word.”

I’ve written negative reviews in my days as a music writer, but usually I’ll find something in the passion or earnestness with which a band pursues their muse that I can at least respect. Not here, not for a band with 16 endorsement deals by their second album. This is the most vacuous, manufactured drivel I’ve heard in a long time.

Backstreet Boys with dark eyeliner. Go figure.

--Racer

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